Thursday, June 27, 2013

Cabin Socks

As soon as I finished the Flicka Hat, I started Cabin Socks.  This is the 3rd project in the Great Wool Experiment I launched just a little over a week ago. (10 days ago I talked about the 1st project).  It's nice that the patterns at the beginning of this book are small things.  Hats, socks, mittens, etc.  I'll be examining lots of different wools and getting to understand how they work on little, fun, quick projects.  Just my thing.

I will do the sweaters eventually.  I'm fairly certain.  I will certainly enjoy the learning process, and knitting for the "mini me" will be much more fun (and quicker) than knitting for the current me.  Next year...

In the meantime, I'm working on Cabin Socks.  These are knit with Naturally's Perendale Yarn, a DK weight yarn that is squishy and springy and perfect for socks.  These are knitting up very quickly on size 4 needles.  I love the color and I honestly can't wait to put them on my feet.  They are going to be perfect "wear around the house" socks (too thick for any shoes I own).

I'm guessing, based on my internet searching and difficulty finding this sourced in shops, that this lovely little New Zealand yarn isn't available any longer.  There are other lines by Naturally, but it seems that the Perendale has gone away.

One of the things I find interesting about this yarn is that there are definite fuzz to it...some of the hairs sticking out give it a lot of grab as well as character.  When I pulled the band from around the skein, Pearl jumped up from whatever she was doing and came to investigate.  She wanted to get her paws on that yarn (her teeth too, I'm sure!).  I will definitely be making her a toy out of this when I'm finished with the socks.

Here is a picture of the socks just started.  The yarn is a gorgeous dark green.  In the light it comes across as a gorgeous emerald.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

So Much to Talk About

I was unbelievably productive with my knitting last week.  I took Thursday off because my allergies were killing me...

[side note:  any of you that suffer with allergies will understand, but sometimes they make you feel awful.  Like you've been run over by a truck, gotten the flu and just can't move...all at the same time.  That was me on Thursday and Friday...I've heard the mantra "it's only allergies" so many times it makes me want to smack something.  Unlike the flu, or another cold or infection, allergies are typically chronic.  Worse some days that others, but there all the time.  It's enough to wear a person out...and sometimes it does.  That's where I was on Thursday....ok...back to talking about knitting.]

Pretty much all I had the energy for was sitting and knitting.  And I knit and knit and knit.  I had so much fun and knitted some more.  And when my energy picked up I wove some and then wove some more.

I showed you a picture of the Flicka Hat that I finished on Sunday.  Yesterday I showed you a picture of the gorgeous scarf I finished on Saturday (even though I hated it.)  Also, on Saturday I finished this cowl:

I've made this for Ernie, and hopefully it'll fit him.  The bumps and special stitches you see are knitted "Morse Code" for his favorite phrase, "Thank God that's over with, by Louise Brooks."  So, that's what it "says"...if you know how to read it and what to look for.

I used Malabrigo worsted yarn, which is just a little bit of heaven.  It's so soft and lovable that you want to curl up in it and take a nap. (which Pearl does pretty often actually.)

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Plodding Along

Two years ago I figured out how to knit.  I finished a hat in a yarn called "Fabulous Felines"...colorways dyed to match kitties who won the modeling contest early on.  they were gorgeous yarns in a chunky weight. And using that yarn I finally figured out the mechanics of knitting...and successfully completed a really fun hat.

Then I started knitting a scarf...which had knits and purls and was kind of slow going, but little bits in the car and before I knew it (July) I had a finished scarf.  I knitted a hat for a few other people and then started the scarf in the picture below while visiting Elizabeth in Orlando in October 2011.

This one was a learning experience for me.  I found this gorgeous yarn while visiting Asheville, NC.  It has sequins in it, is soft and squishy and really quite striking.  I wanted to try some lace, so found this pattern and thought it would be I cast on, misread the pattern a few times, but finally got going on it.

And hated it.

I hated every minute of working on this scarf from about 4" in.  I can't explain to you exactly why, but I did.  I brought it to lunch to knit on after I'd eaten.  I'd find other things to do.  I made myself knit on it for 30 minutes per day before I worked on anything else...and then I'd find things to besides knit so I wasn't making progress on anything.

I took it to the beach with me and worked on it a bit and said, "ugh"...I hate this scarf and it'll never be done.

I knit and knit every now and then and guess what?  I pulled it out of its bag this weekend, looked and it, and decided that it's long enough.  It isn't as long as I typically like scarves, but it's long enough, so I cast off and took its picture and was so relieved to be done.  Done and done and done!

This scarf has been an interesting lesson for me from the beginning.  I liken it to the first needlepoint I did.  I hated working on that one, too, but one day fell in love with needlepoint (not that project but others).  I never gave up on this scarf and I'm glad that I didn't.  Like that needlepoint, I know it'll become one of my favorite scarves to wear.  It's so pretty, prettier in person than in the picture, and I know when it gets cold enough, I'll feel all fancy putting it on with its matching hat.  The little sparkle from the sequins is just the thing to make me smile, even if I'm cold.

The scarf also taught me that not giving up on a project is a good thing.  Sometimes they get to where they aren't much fun, but putting it aside and letting it steep for a while helps.  I was genuinely amazed when I pulled it out how long it really was and that I'd actually managed to progress that far even though I genuinely didn't like working on it.

Now, what I need to figure out is why.  Why did I hate that project so much?  Was it the pattern? Was it the fact that it went on for so long?  Was it the right yarn and wrong needles?  Was it the wrong yarn (pretty though it may be, it was kind of splitty and frustrated me from time to time)?  Was I just bored with it after a certain period of time (which is a good lesson for me to think about in regard to knitting giant projects)?  

I'm sure I'll need to get to another hated project to make complete sense of it.  But it'll probably be a totally different thing.

However, I do want to point out that even though plodding along isn't is progress towards a goal.  Sometimes we just need to keep that in mind!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Making Hats

I love making hats.  It almost makes me want to move someplace with cold weather so I can wear them more often...but not quite.  I really don't like being cold.  BUT I'm very well-prepared in case the weather does turn cooler, like it did this past winter (that would never end).

The 2nd project in the great Wool Experiment was another hat.  I showed you a picture of the colorwork section about half finished last week.  Over the weekend, I went into retreat (more on that tomorrow) and finished the hat.  I love the hat.  It's so unbelievably soft, plushy, and sweet.  As soon as I finished it I plunked it on my head and told David he needed to take a picture of me in it.

He then proceeded to go do a load of laundry, come in and start prepping something for dinner, and then tidied up in the kitchen.  While I'm not about to interrupt anyone cleaning in my house, I was beginning to get quite warm.

So, David came over and did a little photoshoot and this adorable picture came out of that.

I do love this hat and it will definitely be my "go to" when the weather turns cold (wool, blended with alpaca and angora and then double thickness due to the stranded colorwork=very warm...Fresco yarn is amazing!).  I've picked out a pattern to do a cowl in the pinks and green (with buttons, yea!) as well as some mittens in the grey and a darker grey that I had laying around in my small skeins box.  The colorwork was fun and interesting...made me concentrate which I don't always have to do while knitting.  And the yarn is a simple pleasure to work with.

I will also point out that I make mistakes in my knitting.  I don't fret over it.  I'm not perfect and the chance that someone will notice that I've made a mistake in my knitting is pretty slim.  I got off from time to time in my colorwork pattern.  Never more than one stitch, and if the mistake was close by I'd correct it.  If not, well, I'd just let it be.  The structure wasn't going to be compromised, and the overall pattern has so much going on that you'd really have to look to notice.  And I figure if someone is looking that close AND says something, then they just don't understand me and my knitting there!

With project #2 finished, I promptly cast on Project #3.  It's a pair of socks in a thicker wool than I usually use.  It's dark green, plump and really wonderful (David says it's scratchy, but he's said that about everything so far).  I'll talk about it later this week as I'm still getting to know this yarn (Naturally Perendale).

And for the record, I finished 3 projects this weekend, made HUGE progress on the baby blanket, frogged my very first knitted hat (which was too big and I want to use the yarn for something else, and as fate would have it it's been discontinued), and noticed (in a big way) just how much weight I've lost and how good I'm looking.  I realized that the girls favor me quite a lot.  Something I hadn't paid attention to because I attributed much of my "shape" to what was evidently weight.  This getting to know the new me is going to be a long experience and one that I'm looking forward to seeing all the way through!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Wool Experiment Project #2

As I cruise along on project #2 in the Great Wool Experiment, I'm astonished at how much fun I'm having.  I can't wait to start #3 (but that's not astonishing, that's just me) and I'm looking around in the book ooh-ing and aah-ing at all the projects to come.  I'll have to take a skip ahead when it comes to the sweaters.  I'm NOT making any sweaters for myself until I've reached my goal I'll skip ahead to the scarves and shawls sections once I'm finished with the socks.  That should take up some time--especially looking at my previous track record with scarves!

Project #2 is called Flicka.  It's a hat knit in the Bohus Knitting style.  According to Parkes, Bohus knitting originated in Sweden and is a form of stranded colorwork that uses more than 2 colors per row (unlike Fair Isle) and sometimes incorporates purl stitches to blur the edges and make the colorwork section look more decorative.  Bohus Knitting also traditionally uses yarn with angora in it (this is according to an episode of Knitting Daily).  The angora, or other yarn with a fuzzy texture to it, creates a halo around the stitches which blurs them further. The end result in all of this should be a slightly fuzzy colored pattern.

I can't tell yet how fuzzy the colorwork is for this pattern (you can judge for yourself in the pic below), but I CAN tell you that I'm intrigued.  I'm challenged and I'm having loads of fun.  I worked on this for over an hour straight last night.  I find colorwork rather addictive...I don't want to put it down because I want to see how it turns out.  I suspect I'll have the remaining 15 rows or so of colorwork finished today.

The yarn? Fresco by Classic Elite is a little bit of heaven (wool, baby alpaca and angora).  If David told me this one was scratchy, I'd know he was allergic to wool.  It's so soft, feels so wonderful while knitting it, and the knitted fabric is drapy and so very pretty.  I truly think the pleasure of this yarn is in the knitting of it...though I'm sure anyone who wears it will tell you it's in the wearing of it!  You, the reader, might think it's in the seeing of it in this picture.  I'd think we were all right.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Hill Country Hat

Two nights ago I finished the first project in the great wool experiment.  I love this hat.  It's squishy, very pretty, and super quick to knit.  It also fits my big head pretty well (I added one extra repeat of the hills and valley pattern).  I'm hoping it fits Ernie's.  If not, I have myself a super-warm new hat!

About the yarn (since this is the wool experiment).  Upon first grabbing the ball of Rowan's Pure Life British Breeds Suffolk yarn, I thought, "hmmm...itchy, definitely crunchy--I can see why Clara Parkes uses that description--and rather hairy."  There are bits of different hairs--white and black--that stick out here and there throughout the yarn.

I did notice that the yarn was very round.  It's three ply, and upon untwisting it to look at the plies, I noticed that the individual plies are all smooth and very lofty.  The plies almost look like wool "cotton candy."  When plied together, the resulting yarn is round and very smooshy--despite the initial impression of "itch."  When knitted, the resulting fabric is so cushy, yet strong, that I wanted to sit and squeeze it.

I was worried that wearing the yarn might itch my forehead or ears.  After putting it on, though, all I felt was warmth.  I also worried that knitting with it might irritate my hands.  I found that after starting to work with the yarn, it didn't feel itchy.  I did notice a sheepy smell, which was more enhanced upon opening the zip-loc bag I keep my projects in to protect them from curious kitties.  The smell definitely added to the charm of the yarn and I found myself smelling it from time to time as I progressed in my knitting.

Because of the climate where we live, I can't imagine knitting a sweater or jacket out of this yarn, though I believe that it would be like a great big hug on a cold day if I lived somewhere cold.  Realistically, I can see knitting a blanket.  I saw one on Ravelry that used different breeds (thus different colors) in a log-cabin blanket.  It was very pretty and something I might want to try eventually.  I can also see some cabled throw pillows or a bag--slightly felted.

I'm really glad I started this journey into wool discovery.  I can't wait to see what the next projects bring.  I've already casted on project #2, the Flicka Hat, in Fresco yarn by Classic Elite.  I'll talk more about that tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Zooming along!

I have so many things to talk about today, but I'm trying to stay focused...I can, hopefully, have at least one thing in my life that is focused and it WILL be the blog!

I finished the wool hat last night.  I want to talk about it, but that will have to wait (even though it does fit into the zooming along title since I only started it on Saturday...3 days cast on to cast off...that's pretty fast!)

But, what I want to talk about instead is the Zoom Loom.  It's a new product from Schacht Spindle Company that is a replacement for the Weave-It pin loom of many years back.  Weave-It went out of production and people were clamoring for something to fill its space.  In arrives the Zoom Loom.

You can make 4" squares using a variety of yarn weights and types. It's easy to start working on, very quick to learn, and pretty quick to finish.  I can make one square now in less than 15 minutes.  It's portable, which is GREAT for weaving, and, honestly, a little bit addictive.  I'm making loads of squares and trying to figure out what I'm going to do with all of them when I'm done (currently thinking blanket for the first project).  It's a great way to spend my lunch hour and a few little bits of time when I don't feel like knitting or sitting at the big loom at home.

It definitely takes me back to the days of the cotton loop loom I had that I made hundreds of potholders.  Those were so much fun.  I hope that Schacht decides to make more sizes of Zoom Looms.  It would be nice to have a few different sizes to work from.  I can envision some really interested pieced blankets with different sized squares.

And, for the record, I now have 8 squares only 2 days of playing with the new loom. I should have a few more made today as it's really easy to take short breaks at work and do a few rows of weaving.  Be on the look out for finished projects with this awesome little crafty toy!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Dancing Waters

Thanks to Mary over at Hugs I got rather addicted to the Vesper Sock Yarn club.  Each month (or so) a new skein of gorgeously hand-dyed self-striping sock yarn comes in my mail box, which I usually wind into a ball right away because I "can't wait to start it."

David's heard that last statement so many times he doesn't really blink any more.  He asked the other day how many projects I have on the go and whether I thought the "average knitter" was like me with lots of projects on the go...I told him that I honestly didn't know, but that I did know that some people were one project only people.  I honestly can't understand how they manage.

(And don't ask. I don't really know how many projects I have on the go.  I did realize over the weekend that all the "skinny sweaters" I was making would likely be too big for me when I get skinny so I frogged them all.  All the bags of yarn and patterns are sitting in a basket awaiting my skinny self.  THEN I'll know what size to make...and I'll make lots, trust me.)

Back to the sock yarn.  I wrote last week about how much I love fingering weight yarn and how much I love making different things out of them.  I've been contemplating making different things than socks from the Vesper yarn and over the weekend, I started a scarf--a woven scarf.  And oh, my, is it gorgeous!  Just look.

I plan to get this woven over the week.  Trust me, I'll show you the finished picture.  But it's so pretty on the loom, the shuttle is gorgeous with all those and wow!

Monday, June 17, 2013


I've made a little discovery this weekend.  One I thought I'd never really make.

I love wool.  I didn't think it would fascinate me so much, but I love it.  I recently purchased and read Clara Parkes's "The Knitters Book of Wool" (AKBOW) and decided to knit the patterns in it. Yes, all of them.  Now, I'm only on the first one and may change my mind before I'm done in 10 years, but I really like the experimental process that this will bring to me, I'll learn about wool in a way I've never thought about before, and I'll have some great projects in the end.

First, let me tell you about Parkes's book.  It's very well written, and her love of yarn is evident from the first page.  Her love of WOOL, I should add.  She inspired me to try out a fiber that so far I've kept to only that that feels soft and supple to my hands upon first touch.

My skin is sensitive, I've always told myself.  My husband's skin is very sensitive (I do believe he has a wool allergy as he describes it as "hot" when it touches him).  Because of that, I've never really given wool much thought.  We also live in a warm climate and hardly need hardy coats, sweaters, hats, mittens or gloves.

But, as I've played around with knitting these past couple of years, I've become more and more accepting of wool.  Not just the superwash merino kind, but others as well.  After reading AKBOW, I learned about all the different breeds, and the different qualities of their fleece, and I've become very curious.  I wanted to get to know these different wools, knit with them in projects specifically designed for them, and truly appreciate small batch yarns.

So far, I've started the Hills and Valleys hat and I'm truly enjoying working on it.  I'm using Rowan's Purelife British Sheep Breeds (chunky) yarn.  The yarns are all undyed and showcase the wool of different British Sheep breeds.  It would be tempting to try them all...but I do have to focus my knitting time as, unfortunately, it isn't unlimited.   I chose Suffolk because I liked the soft grey color. I love seeing all the different fibers in this yarn.  There is soft grey, white and black.  I love that it smells sheepy.  I am absolutely amazed at how springy and cushy the finished fabric is.  Elizabeth described it as "probably being very warm" (this despite the fact that she turned her nose up at the "itch" factor).

I'm looking forward to washing this hat and seeing how it blooms.  I love the stitch definition and how it feels on the needles.  I'm fascinated by the structure of the fabric and am looking forward to getting it off of the needles to see how well it fits.  I'm thinking it's going to my hairdresser Ernie...if he approves of slightly itchy wool. :)

Today's picture is of the hat, just started.  It was knitted from the crown down:  always a sketchy start but once a couple of rows in it's fine.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Too tired to knit?

I remember back in grad school in Kentucky talking to one of my professors about my quilting.  I brought her some blocks I was working on for the Civil War block of the month quilt, and she mentioned how it must be so nice to sit and relax and quilt.  I told her it definitely was a relaxing endeavor, but was NOT a sitting endeavor.  There's a lot of standing involved in the piecing of a quilt--at the ironing board, at the cutting table, and somewhere for planning and laying out the fabric.  I remember piecing and being quite sweaty.  She was surprised at this and said that she clearly had no idea about piecing a quilt because in her mind it was a sitting activity.

Now, knitting is a sitting activity.  One of the reasons I wanted to learn so badly is so that I could knit in the car on long drives.  I like knitting in the evenings because I want to wind down and not have to get up and down a lot.  Knitting definitely lets me do that, and it's really nice.

But, last night, I found myself too tired to knit.  As I stated that out loud, I kind of laughed.  I mean, really, physically it isn't much work.  And sometimes mentally it's pretty much just mindless knitting.  But...last night, I was actually too tired to think about mindless knitting. I didn't thing I'd be able to do much other than just sit last night, so that's what I did.  I knew that if I knit, it would be messy and I wouldn't be happy with I abstained.

It was nice to relax, but my hands felt itchy, restless, and like that didn't know what to do with themselves.  It's funny how my hands are so used to moving that being still is uncomfortable--even painful.

I read about yarn instead (Clara Parks' book "The Knitters Book of Wool."), and in doing so realize that I want to make every single pattern in the book.  I want to knit my way through the Knitters Book of Wool, using the yarns recommended in the patterns, so I can try out different kinds of wool, different kinds of techniques, and explore new items to make (like pillows and bags).

I also find it funny that even when I'm too tired to actually knit, and even though I have 10 projects started...that I want to start more, try different things, be creative in so many different ways.

I definitely think I'm crazy!

Today's picture is of me knitting at the quilt bee.  I worked pretty hard on this blanket, especially on Saturday, and made some pretty good progress.  I still love the colors, the pattern, etc.  It's not difficult, but isn't straight knitting either so isn't boring.  I also put it on a bigger circular needle, so now it looks like an even bigger hat...a hat for a giant instead of a blanket for a baby!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Back to Work

It's always a shock coming back to work, even if my vacation was during my normal time off.  During the summers we get Fridays off, work longer days Monday-Thursday, so it's tempting to do the 3-day weekend thing.

The 21st Thornton Thimblers Quilt Bee was amazing as usual.  We had such fun talking, playing games, and quilting.  We went out to eat, planned fancy meals, and just enjoyed each others' company.  Every year that I go I'm amazed that we can have a group of women between the ages of 17-73 and we ALL have fun.  Every single one of us.

And I realize every year how blessed I am to be part of such a wonderful family who can laugh and support each other and enjoy being together.  Truly deeply blessed.

I knitted a good bit on the baby blanket during the bee.  I'll show a picture of that later.  Today, I know, you want to know about the quilt.

It was designed by my Aunt Janice (our Queen Bee) for Emma and Elizabeth, the two youngest quilters in our group.  Janice asked last summer what Elizabeth's favorite things are, colors, things, etc., and from that she designed Elizabeth's side of the quilt to be lady bugs.  Big circles of lady bug fabric along with red and white and black and white polka dotted fabric make up the pattern of that side.  This quilt is special because it's reversible.  The other side, Emma's, is sunflower and royal blue fabric stripes alternating in diagonal stripes.  We quilted from the lady bug side because it had the most design elements, but either side could be considered the "top" and the winner would have the "top" declared as the name of the quilt.

On Saturday night we drew and Emma won.

Here is our group picture.  It's always sad to leave and go home, but we know that next year we'll get together, come up with new games (or repeat the old ones), and again enjoy being together.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Sing along with me!

It's the most wonderful time of the year!

I have had the song in my head all morning...lalalalalalalala.......

I was thinking of being really clever and writing new lyrics, but I've been crazy busy all morning with orientation and haven't had time to be clever, BUT I'm singing the song in my head all the while.  I'm a little worried people are going to look at me funny because I'm going to say something and they aren't going to "get it."

But it is.  The most wonderful time of the year!

BECAUSE.....(drum roll, drummer boy named Ted)...


And around 3:30 or so I'll be on the road heading that way.  I'm so excited.

Because you know what.  I have a wonderful family that I love being around and enjoy so much spending time with them.  The bee has done so many things for me that I can't help but singing along:

it's the most wonderful time of the year!

Back in 2009 I won this quilt.  I cried when I won it. You can't see it in this picture but my eyes were all red rimmed and teary.  It is a truly special quilt, and me winning it was truly special.  This year Elizabeth might win, or she might not.

If she doesn't, she's dancing in a coconut bra and grass skirt.  And really and truly...I hope she doesn't win it this year because THAT's something I want to see!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Quilt Bee!

It's official...the Quilt Bee starts in one day.  I won't be there for 2 days, but it's official anyway.  We're a small group this year.  There are some illnesses in the family, major anniversaries, and young adults with plans.  But we'll have a fabulous time anyway.

I can never wait for the Quilt Bee.  I have to say that this year it snuck up on me.  What with the tornado, moving twice, a serious case of knitting fever, making serious life-changing decisions with the diet, and all the other general goings on around here, it's suddenly here.  And after last year's performance with all the handwoven and cross stitched items, all of my friends keep asking me "what did you make"?

I didn't make anything this year.  Not one thing.

I bought a few things to knit, but I didn't get to them.  One will take a long time and who knows when it'll be given away at the bee--our 30th?

I do have a game with some gifties...but nothing big.

In a way I almost feel like the bee is surreal this year.  Like I know it's going to happen, but I don't believe it either.  But, I'll get there and it'll be fabulous fun and we'll all have a terrific time and I'll go home on Sunday feeling the joy of being part of such a wonderful family.

There's only one thing that's slightly concerning me...the diet.  I know I can stick to it.  I've done it through vacation,  turmoil, moving and all that.  But, I haven't had to face the temptations of all the yummy and creatively prepared food that will be available this coming weekend.  I'm going to stick to it.  There's too much momentum going and I'm ready to have the weight off and be thin.  But, I do think this will be the most challenging time to date.


Today's picture is of the other "main" project I have going right now (you'll remember startitis from March?  Well, those are all still on the needles, but not being actively worked on right now).  Anyway, I'm working on a pair of socks out of some Blue Moon Fiber Arts Rockin' Sock Club yarn.  This colorway came with a gorgeous multi-color (rust, purple and green) that I used to do the colorwork hat (which I had to give away because it was too small for my huge noggin).  I picked out a lovely anklet pattern from Sockupied Fall 2012 and started knitting away.  The lace pattern is lovely, the yarn is gorgeous.  I couldn't see it when it was paired up with the mulicolored yarn, but by itself.  This brown is subtly shaded and just so pretty.

Don't tell anyone, but I'm going to start another pair of socks for the trip.  I need something that all I have to do is "knit"--no pattern just knitting--I've already got the Vesper yarn wound into a hank.  It's a recent acquisition, but I can't remember the name of it right's much more muted in color than the last one I fnished, but it's gorgeous and will be a very nice pair of socks.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Why I love sock yarn

Yesterday I posted about R&R and how I really enjoyed my weekend.  I also made the observation that I've come to the conclusion that sock yarn is my favorite yarn.  I thought I'd expound on that today.

From the moment I started knitting my first pair of socks just a tad over a year ago I've been addicted to making socks.  And as I mentioned when I started knitting that first pair of socks it was really the whole reason I learned to knit.  I speculated in that first foray into hand-knitted socks that I probably wouldn't wear them every day with my regular shoes, but I was oh-so-wrong.  I actually bought new shoes to wear with my hand-knitted socks...and I'm still in the hunt for the perfect pair of sandals or Mary Janes that will show them off and still look decent when wearing them.

I wear my hand-knitted socks all year. Unlike people in the far north, I don't need special, extra-thick socks for winter, so I haven't made any in thicker yarn for myself, though I have made them for other people.  And I think that I will eventually make myself some just to wear around the house when it is very cold...our house gets cold in the winter even though I'm not from the far north.

But, back to the yarn that most socks are made of.  It's called fingering weight.  For socks, it's knitted at a fairly tight gauge of 8-9 stitches per inch.  It's most often superwash merino, which means that it's soft and machine washable (won't felt).  It's very often combined with specialty fibers such as silk, cashmere or tencel.  It will often have nylon blended in for strength.  Some sock yarns will have sparkly fibers blended in as well.

Fingering weight yarn is also great knitted up at looser gauges.  I recently completed a neon hat knitted with size 5 needles and I'm now working on a matching scarf (garter stitch) with the same size needles.  The yarn is super soft and snuggly and wonderful for those projects.  I've made a shawl knitted at an even looser gauge and in lace to create a beautiful drape that is perfect for a summer shoulder wrap, or for cooler weather tied around my neck.

I've seen patterns for fingering weight yarn to make sweaters, blankets (I'm currently working on 2 blankets made in sock yarn), and other items.  I love making up my monsters in the fingering weight yarn in a tight gauge like socks.  They're tiny and cute and fun.

But, fingering weight does not necessarily mean sock yarn...and sock yarn is super special.  A whole market has sprung up in the hand-dyed world.  Sock yarns can be variegated or solid, self-striping or slow color change.  They come in knitted up "flats" that have been hand-painted (I love these).  It's really very fun working with them because you're not always sure what's coming next.  I love all the colors.  It's also easy to buy them.  One 100g hank is enough (more than enough) to make a full pair of socks plus extras for leftover projects.  Or, you could make a shawl or a hat or something else out of one 100g hank.  That's pretty economical considering how many skeins/hanks of yarn it usually takes to make sweaters and other projects.

I could go on and on...but really, I think you get my point.  Sock yarns are special.  They have a particular place in my heart and hands, and I will always be working on a project made from sock yarn.  That I can guarantee you.

Today's picture is of the baby blanket I'm currently knitting as my "main" project.  It's for a co-worker who's having a baby at the end of the summer.  I can hope that I finish it before then.  This is a great example of hand-dyed yarn (Shibui sock).  It's mostly solid, but the color variations are slight and gorgeous.  The colorway is called "sky"...and to me it evokes a sky on a beautiful spring day--wisps of clouds break up the solid of the blue, but the blue is deep and true.

And I know that the picture doesn't look like a blanket, but instead looks like a hat...that's because the project is knit from the center out.  I won't know what it looks like until it's finished.  And that's kind of fun...but tense too because I don't know if I've made it big enough until I take it off of the needles.  This is going to be an exercise in patience, self control, and using up the allotment of yarn!

Monday, June 3, 2013

R & R

Refreshed and Relaxed.  That's how I feel after this weekend.  It wasn't even THAT difficult for me to get up and get to work this morning...something that's quite the feat.  I actually didn't even fuss that much.  That hardly ever happens.

Do you want to know how totally relaxed we were this weekend?  On Saturday we never even unlocked our door!  We just hung out in the house and chilled.

I worked on 2 knitting projects.

  1. A new pair of socks (yes, I'm addicted, but that's ok.  I have a VERY large stash of sock yarns that will take me some time to get through...and I honestly doubt I'm going to ever see the bottom of those baskets...yes, the sock yarn stash now occupies two (large) baskets...I'm not embarrassed or ashamed.  Sock yarn is my favorite yarn to work with...there's a blog post in itself in why I love sock yarn).  I did decide that the square a day sock yarn blanket needs to be put on hold so that I can add a few more balls of yarn to the mix.  I've finished up 2 balls and need to replenish before I'm down to just a couple and things aren't as "scrappy" looking as I'd like.
  2. The other project that I worked on is a baby blanket.  It's knit from the center out so right now looks like a fairly largish hat.  I don't know how many rows in I am...but I have about 6" from the center. It says to knit until it measures 13" from the center, so I have quite a ways to go and as the rows grow, so do the number of stitches, so the next 6" will take considerably longer than the first 6" did.  I have a couple of months until this baby is due, so I think that if I work on it every day I'll get there.  It'll be going to Texas with me this weekend, so hopefully will see some good progress in the car and at the bee.
I did not: hang pictures, weave, or go to a party on Sunday.  I'd planned to do all of those, but it was so wonderfully relaxing just to hang out that that's what I did.  


Today's picture is of the luscious pink cabled socks that I finished weekend before last.  I love these socks. The yarn has a slight sheen to it from the bamboo, and they are terrifically soft.  They fit with the perfect snugness that keeps them up and my feet happy all day.  Those, btw, are some happy feet!